Research Fellowships

Getting a Fellowship

The Research Development Team at Bristol provides expert support to academic members of staff who are seeking external funding for their research. The team also acts as a contact point for funding agencies and partners and has a detailed knowledge of a wide range of funding issues. Each faculty has dedicated staff members to provide support to individuals applying for all types of funding including writing fellowship applications. They are also running a Faculties of Health Sciences and Life Sciences Fellowships Bootcamp providing support for those planning to submit a Fellowship in the next 12 months to prepare a high quality application to the funder of your choice.

Securing fellowship funding will provide you with the opportunity to conduct truly independent research and begin to grow your own research group. These type of awards are usually short and mid-term posts designed to help with the development of an academic career.

The main benefits are:

Be aware that some funding schemes require approval through a University 'Major Bids' process, particularly when a commitment is required from the University beyond the duration of the fellowship.

Top tips on applying for a fellowship

Allow plenty of time: everything takes longer than you think it will. Make sure you have enough time for preparing drafts of your proposal, preparing the costings, understanding the internal and external process and obtaining the appropriate signatures and approvals.

Study your funding source: all funding agencies have their own criteria for deciding on allocation of their resources. Familiarise yourself with them and ensure that your application clearly addresses your targeted source of support. You don’t want to waste your time applying for an inappropriate scheme so speak to the funder, sign up for information feeds, and consider whether the sponsor is compatible with the mission and objectives of your school or faculty.

Read the rules and the guidance notes: this will help to avoid basic mistakes, which at best will require clarification and at worst may prejudice chances of success.

Ensure that you are eligible to apply: do you have an eligible status and is the University of Bristol an eligible institution?

Ask for help and advice from a range of sources: Create a collaborative network within the University and beyond. Speak with the Research Development Team, mentors and colleagues who have served on fellowship interview panels. Find out how senior colleagues put an application together. Get a second opinion on your application from a mentor or a senior colleague. Proofread, spell check and stick to specified formats – remember the little things count! Presentation, punctuation and grammar set the tone for how people feel about you and your research – they really do matter.

Guidance from funders

Each funder has different priorities and policies regarding the type of research they will fund and at what level.  It is important to identify a potential funder whose profile matches your requirements.  The Research Development Team can help you do this. Here is a list of the main Research Councils and their guidance on applying for fellowships:

  1. Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) – how to write a good AHRC grant application (Research Grants and Fellowships) 
  2. Overview of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Fellowship Scheme 
  3. Medical Research Council (MRC) How to win a fellowship guidance - MRC also have some excellent resources and case studies to help you explore your career options 
  4. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) comprehensive research grants and fellowships handbook 
  5. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Fellowship schemes
  6. Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) guidance for applicants

University Fellowships

The purpose of the Institute for Advanced Studies is to enhance research and intellectual life at the University of Bristol by funding workshops and fellowships in pursuit of new ideas. Their webpages provide the details of the University Fellowships, what is available, the conditions and criteria of the awards and how to apply.